Peter Hirzel

Peter Hirzel 

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BENNINGTON — A former math teacher at Pine Cobble School accused in the sexual assault of a student was fired from the school in mid-March and, according to emails sent to the Banner, unceremoniously escorted off the campus by administration officials.

Sue Wells, head of the private school located in Williamstown, Mass., said 60-year-old Peter Hirzel, of Pownal, had worked at Pine Cobble until mid-March of last year. He pled not guilty Wednesday in Bennington Superior Court to one count of repeated aggravated sexual assault of the student.

“We are devastated by this news, and our hearts are broken for the victim,” Wells said in an email. Asked specific questions about the situation and Hirzel’s firing, Wells responded, “However, due to the ongoing criminal case, Pine Cobble is referring all questions to law enforcement.”

Some of the questions left unanswered as of press time were when the administration knew about the allegations against Hirzel, the reason given for his dismissal, and if parents, trustees and authorities were told immediately of the situation.

Pine Cobble is a private, co-educational day school for children in preschool through eighth grade that’s been in existence for over 80 years. According to Pine Cobble’s website, its mission is to “cultivate in each student a lifelong passion for learning, a strong sense of self-worth and respect for others throughout the community.”

According to court documents, the assaults began when the victim was in eighth grade. The assaults allegedly happened at Hirzel’s Pownal residence and went on for months until a therapist alerted the victim’s mother, who then alerted authorities in Bennington.

According to Hirzel’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages, he has worked in numerous schools teaching math and art. His employment at Pine Cobble is still listed as “current” on his pages, and he started working there in sometime in 2018.

Hirzel faces up to life imprisonment if convicted of the charges. He is being held without bail at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland.


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